A Guide to MTB Shoes: Where Quality Meets Performance

While riding a mountain bike, your gluteus, hands and feet are your top three points of contact. However, as you frequently stand up the number of contact points reduces to just two – your feet. So, it’s crucial to understand the important relationship between your feet and the bike and take your time to choose the appropriate footwear.

First off, since riding style, pedal preference, terrain, and even the weather can influence your choice, there isn’t a single ideal mountain bike shoe for every rider. I hope this quick guide can help you make a choice that works for you.

What to Look for in MTB Shoes?

Sure, you can ride a bike in any footwear you like, but those who ride regularly will benefit from durable MTB bike shoes designed specifically for the purpose. When compared with typical athletic models, these will stand up to most of the rigours of off-road riding! However, the type of shoe you’ll need depends on the pedal you use.

mtb shoe
Source: bikerumor.com

Flat Pedal or Clipless

Gone are the days when your shoes would slip off the pedals easily as soon as they got wet or muddy. Model flat pedal designs have ‘sticky’ rubber compounds to help them grip the pedals in wet conditions. You’ll be surprised by how well these mountain biking shoes hold their position even when covered in sticky muck.

The major benefit of flat pedals is how much simpler it is to remove your foot from the pedal and then replace it. This is extremely helpful when riding sloppy turns as when the bike starts to slide, you can maintain your balance by quickly dabbing your foot. Since you can’t pull up on the pedals to lift the back wheel off the ground, you’ll be forced to refine your bike handling techniques.

Since you don’t need to learn how to clip in and out, flats are perfect for casual and beginner riders. Flats are also popular among MTB aficionados, and some of the best gravity riders even compete on them.

Clipless pedal mountain bike shoes, on the other hand, are used for everything from XC racing to DH, therefore they are available in a variety of styles to match the function. They generally have more firm soles when compared to flat pedal ones. Naturally, they also provide a location to mount the necessary cleat.

High-end shoes typically contain carbon fibre, whereas entry-level models use a nylon shank to give stiffness which is a must if you stand on your bike. Moreover, hiking, riding, or even just walking can be challenging in a stiff XC shoe, which is something to take into account if the local trails demand a lot of time spent off the bike.

Although best for racing, clipless pedals can be good for recreational cycling as well. The majority of gravity racers and all cross-country racers utilize them. Alternatively, many riders prefer descending on flat surfaces, without knowing that clipless pedals are excellent for ascending.


All MTB bike shoes have firm soles specifically made for pedalling. When pushing the bike up a steep section of terrain, it might be quite difficult to walk if the soles are too stiff. Due to this, clipless SPD-compatible footwear features additional tread or toe studs. This provides you with some traction when you climb slick inclines. Flat pedal shoes are more flexible because they are made to work with a large pedal platform. Because of the sticky rubber compound, they are simpler to walk in and provide traction on slick surfaces.

On warm days, shoes with ventilated uppers allow your feet to breathe and reduce overheating. When paired with waterproof socks, they can be worn all year long. On extremely cold and wet days, dedicated winter MTB boots with waterproof lining help to keep your feet warm and dry.

Mountain bike shoes come with a variety of fastenings. Flat pedal shoes typically employ regular laces because you don’t “lift” on the pedals. Sometimes these are combined with a Velcro strap for added security.

High-end models use BOA lace-up system which employs steel laces with nylon guides and a dial for easy closure and adjustment. This system is highly advantageous since it evenly distributes pressure throughout the entire foot in addition to providing a very snug fit. Since the BOA system has micro-adjustments, it allows for more precise fit adjustment than a ratchet. It’s quite simple to modify the fit while riding thanks to the two-way BOA dials.


Should I size up in mountain bike shoes is one of the most common questions when looking for the perfect fit? While it’s suggested to size up if you’re between sizes, MTB footwear is intended to wrap snuggly around the foot.

mtb shoe
Source: bike.shimano.com

While shopping, look no further than your nearby store or online retailer which offers a wide selection of products. Keep in mind though that there are significant differences in shoe sizing between manufacturers that go beyond just length. For example, some brands have exceptionally broad toe boxes or a midfoot that is narrower.

Also, pay close attention to your feet. Are there any pressure points? Do seams rub your foot? Is your heel lifting with each step? Although you might be tempted to accept a pair of footwear as “good enough,” any minor pain will only worsen throughout a protracted mountain bike ride.

Weather Conditions

The weather greatly influences the type of mountain bike shoes that will work best for you. For instance, XC shoes, and even the majority of trail shoes, include lots of venting to prevent your feet from overheating in the summer. However, during the winter, the vents just serve to let in the chilly air. Additionally, a clipless shoe’s cleat functions as a heat sink, transferring heat from your foot to your pedal. The firm rubber soles of flat pedal shoes, which often have less ventilation, will help keep your feet warmer.

There are, however, cycling shoes made specifically for the winter that may be worn with flat or clipless pedals. Even though they can be pricey, they’re a wise purchase if you intend to continue riding on cold days. Pair them with the appropriate motorcycle accessories and nothing can stop you!